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Hikikomori – some new hope?

Hikikomori – some new hope?

I’ve written about this growing trend before and there are indications it is happening in other countries.

In Japan, half a million people live isolated in their bedrooms, unable to face the outside world. These modern-day hermits are known as the hikikomori. Since April 2018, the Japanese government has been conducting a nationwide study in a bid to fully understand this strange phenomenon.

There are finally some fruits of this studies and some programs that are really working. It appears many of those suffering from this condition remain so because of fear that compounds to the point they are afraid of the outside world. Afraid to meet others. Even afraid of speaking.

I, however, take issue with the reporter that cause this all ‘disturbing’ or ‘frightening’. These are sick people that need help for sure, but what they crave is a sense of belonging and human contact without the skills or help to know how to do it.

I personally believe the proliferation of technology that replaces genuine
human contact with simple online presence are creating gulfs in our human need for real belonging, connection, and meaning. As evidence of this, it’s usually not until those suffering are connected with a real human being to help them out.

Clue: The Storybook

Clue: The Storybook

It’s no secret that I love Clue the movie. But there were also some books written from the screenplay. Unfortunately, since the movie wasn’t a big commercial success, the books were quickly discontinued and forgotten. This means that getting your hands on one of them is rather difficult – and expensive.

Thanks to an inter-library loan, however, I recently acquired a copy of Clue: The Storybook and did a page by page scan. I then combined them into a convenient PDF. I was actually surprised the in-book pictures weren’t actually the best quality, but the book itself is a fun, albeit abbreviated and simple, read.

Probably the most interesting part of the book is that it reveals a 4th ending that had been rumored at, but never filmed.

Give the book a look here.

Clue: The Storybook
by John Landis, Ann Matthews, Jonathan Lynn
Dec 1, 1985

  • ISBN-10: 0671618679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671618674
Flames. Flames on the side of my face

Flames. Flames on the side of my face

Clue is one of my favorite movies of all time. I discovered it when I was younger, and was immediately captivated.

Now, the folks over at It Looks So Fake productions are dong a Clue movie documentary called Who Done It.

They are going through an interviewing most of the original cast and crew – and it’s starting to look really promising. While development seems to be going very slowly, I’m excited to see what they come up with.

Ingenious Beetlejuice Broadway stage

Ingenious Beetlejuice Broadway stage

The cult classic Beetlejuice is coming to Broadway! Besides being a wild ride to score, it presents a unique challenge for the set design as workers must morph the traditional country home of the recently deceased Maitlands, to the kitsch taste of the Deetzes, and then finally into a demon-infested haunted play land.

Set designers came up with an ingenious design that makes room for puppetry, special effects, quick changes, and dance numbers.

Read more about the process and designers here.

Ken Burn’s Civil War series

Ken Burn’s Civil War series

This 9 episode series, first aired in 1990, recently appeared on Netflix. After a re-watch, I am now convinced more than ever it is one of the best documentaries of all time.

It is so unlike the politically-charged and biased ‘documentaries’ that flood out these days. I think it’s also a great demonstration of what documentaries used to be and what GOOD academics looks like. Based before all else on impartial reporting of facts, source material from all angles, and gives little interpretative judgement.

Today, it seems, we get so wrapped in our current highly politicized re-interpretation of the past/current events that we forget that those events often had altogether different meanings and different reasons than we like to put on them. Today’s documentaries all too often white-wash the actions of the past to a single opinion as seen through the lens of one or two directors. They push the documentarian’s opinion and blast over material with today’s arrogance and biases. Ironically, actually losing the most important lessons those events have to teach us.

I have seen this documentary twice now. Once in my teens, and once now in my adult years. I understood far more this time than before as I could relate to each of the players more fully now – from the lowly soldier to the struggles of Lincoln’s decisions.

I heartily recommend a re-watch and sharing this with your kids. If for no other reason than to understand this kind of high quality academics is what used to be considered the norm.

Skalar

Skalar

Skalar is a massive audio-visual sculpture – a collaborative piece by light artist Christopher Bauder and musician Kangding Ray. The combination of kinetic mirrors, perfectly synchronized moving lasers, a changing color palette, and a sophisticated multi-channel sound system triggers sensory and psychological reactions and offers a truly innovative experience.

Scientists Re-create Speech From Brain Signals

Scientists Re-create Speech From Brain Signals

Jean-Dominique Bauby, author of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”,
tapped out the book letter by letter by blinking an eyelid after being paralyzed by a stroke that left him virtually unable to move a muscle.

Thousands of people are reduced to similarly painstaking means of communication as a result of injuries suffered in accidents, combat, strokes, or neurodegenerative disorders such as A.L.S. – all of which render the patient unable to speak.

Scientists are now reporting that they have developed a virtual prosthetic voice, a system that decodes the brain’s vocal intentions and translates them into mostly understandable speech, with no need to move a muscle, even those in the mouth. 

The new system, described on Wednesday in the journal Nature, deciphers the brain’s motor commands guiding vocal movement during speech — the tap of the tongue, the narrowing of the lips — and generates intelligible sentences that approximate a speaker’s natural cadence.

This is astounding development and has untold of implications. Give it a listen below (audio starts at 0:16)

We simply do not write this way anymore

We simply do not write this way anymore

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure – and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing – perfectly willing – to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows – when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children – is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death — and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honor that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me – perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar — that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night — amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours – always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

-Sullivan